Exports to EU increased £1.7bn in year after Brexit vote

Scotland’s exports to the European Union grew by £1.7 billion in the year following the UK’s referendum vote, according to official statistics.

Figures published by the Scottish Government indicate such exports increased to £14.9 billion in 2017, a 13.3% rise on the previous year.

It represented the highest area of growth for Scottish exports, with international exports (excluding oil and gas) increasing by 6.2% to £32.4 billion and exports to the UK increasing by 4.6% to £48.9 billion.

Trade with the UK made up 60% of the total exports from Scotland, with the rest of the world making up 22% and EU exports representing 18% of total exports.

Produced by Scotland’s Chief Statistician, the figures provide estimates of the cash value of Scotland’s exports of goods and services, by industry and destination in 2017.

The US was Scotland’s top export destination country with an estimated £5.5 billion of exports, with the top five international markets (the US, Netherlands, France, Germany and Ireland) accounting for £14.3 billion (44%) of global exports in total.

The statistics highlight the food and beverage sector continues to be the largest industry for Scotland, with exports up by £455 million (8.4%) to £5.9 billion, with strong whisky exports (£4.4 billion in 2017) underpinning this figure.

There was also a strong performance for the manufacturing sector, driven by growth in the export of refined petroleum and chemical products, with an increase of £915 million (35.6%).

Exports of computers, as well as electronic and optical products, was also up by £550 million (41.1%).

Economy Secretary Derek Mackay welcomed the figures as he said the Scottish Government would continue to seek further growth.

“It’s great news that Scotland’s economy and international exports both continue to grow,” Mr Mackay said.

“Our manufacturing sector, including food and drink, is performing particularly well and it is encouraging to see increasing international interest in our service sector.

“This welcome growth will be supported even further through our Export Growth Plan including substantial investment to maximise the value of Scottish exports.

“The key risk to Scotland’s economy continues to be the uncertainty associated with Brexit, and in particular, the risk of a no-deal Brexit.”

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said the level of exports between Scotland and the rest of the UK must be maintained.

He said: “The Scottish Government’s own figures show that our trade with the UK is now worth £34 billion more than our trade with all 27 EU countries combined.

“It is absolutely essential for Scotland’s economy that trade within our UK internal market continues unimpeded.

“Almost every day we hear fresh threats from the First Minister to call a second independence referendum yet these figures show the union is vitally important for jobs, businesses and prosperity across Scotland.

“We will not allow the First Minister to put those at risk.”

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